doctor Gary Christopher passed away Feb. 3 after suffering from a long-term illness. He was 57.
Dr. Christopher was born in Detroit and attended Dearborn's . He went on to the University of Michigan and later earned his doctorate of medicine from Wayne State University. He was certified in family practice and emergency medicine, and worked in the emergency department at OHMC for more than 30 years.
In 2009, the same illness that would later claim his life forced Dr. Christopher to leave his job. However, friends and family say he stayed active in his leisure time and enjoyed golf and fishing.
“He was just a great person,” said his wife, Mary. “He helped anybody and everybody.”
“He loved it and he was great at it,” added his brother, Kenn. “He helped so many people.”
According to Oakwood, Dr. Christopher left a lasing legacy of healing and philanthropy. The reception area of the hospital's emergency department is even named in his honor.
Dr. Christopher was also active with the Oakwood Foundation, according to Executive Director Carla O’Malley. He served as a member of the board for more than eight years and helped support many charitable initiatives through the Physician Giving Campaign.
“While Dr. Christopher’s passing leaves a great void at Oakwood," said O'Malley, "his spirit is alive and well in the example he set with not only patient care in the Emergency Department, but his spirit of philanthropy through his leadership in the Physician Giving Society and his guidance and counsel on the Foundation Board."
“He was committed to visiting donors in the hospital any time of day or night–whether he was at the hospital or not,” she said, adding that his efforts in supporting the foundation resulted in more than $8.6 million in contributions since 2001 from other Oakwood physicians.
“It was once said that ‘What you do for yourself is fleeting and dies with you. What you do for others has unending benefit and is eternal,’" O'Malley said. "Dr. Christopher has left an eternal imprint on the Oakwood community, and will live on in our memory."
Dr. Christopher is survived by his wife, Mary (nee Applegate); his daughters, Julie and Renee; his sister, Diane Puste; his brother, Kenneth (Linda); and sisters-in-law Linda Martin and Kathleen Applegate.
A funeral for Dr. Christopher was already held for close friends and family.
Memorial donations may be given to the Oakwood Center for Exceptional Families, c/o Oakwood Foundation, 23400 Michigan Ave., S-301, Dearborn, MI, 48124, or the Huron Valley Animal Shelter.